Q: I know you love mirrorless cameras and have recommended the Micro Four Thirds cameras, one of them being the Olympus E-M1. Sony now has their A7 full-frame mirrorless camera with starter lens selling for about the same price. Wouldn't I be better off buying the Sony, given the full-frame sensor?
A: You might be better off with the Sony. I can't say for sure without knowing more about how you will use the camera. If you do a lot of photography in very low light or make extremely large prints, the full-frame sensor would be of tremendous benefit. Just know that, overall, the cameras and lenses are going to be much more expensive, as well as noticeably heavier and bulkier. The huge files take up a lot of space on your memory cards and computer, too.
There is no one best camera, just the best tool for a given situation. The reason I am so bullish about the Micro Four Thirds system is the word "system." Besides the inherent advantages of mirrorless in general, with the great variety of camera bodies and lenses from multiple manufacturers I always have the tool I need for any photographic or video situation. The small size and weight of the system make it more likely I will want to take the equipment with me, and the cutting-edge technology combined with the high-quality lenses produce fantastic photographs and videos.
For example, I recently mentioned a September trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. The night I got there I took a midnight boat tour. I took the E-M1 with fast lenses and with the camera's incredible 5-axis image stabilization, I was able to get many sharp pictures in the dark, even from the moving boat. Two days later I took a hydrofoil to Peterhof for what I knew was going to be a very long day. I wanted to pack as light as possible, so I took a Panasonic DMC-GM5 camera body with the Olympus 9-18mm, Panasonic 12-32mm and Panasonic 35-100mm lenses. All three lenses and the camera fit into a very small bag. It was a perfect setup for the day, with tremendous imaging power in a lightweight, tiny package.
You don't get anywhere near that kind of variety and flexibility with any other system. The pictures are on my Facebook page if you want to see them, but be forewarned: I have not edited the album yet, so there are a lot of throwaways and duplicates posted.
Anyone interested in trying out the system inexpensively should check out the reconditioned OM-D E-M10 kits for $399 at the Olympus Outlet. It's a great camera, a great buy and a great way to get started. getolympus.com.
Q: My mother is becoming somewhat hard of hearing and is having trouble hearing her television. Is it possible to use a Bluetooth speaker placed on a nearby coffee table to provide TV audio?
A: It is possible, but you may experience audio/video sync issues. Some Bluetooth devices work well with each other for video, but others don't, and it can change with every update on the devices.
If your TV has built-in Bluetooth, see if the manufacturer offers a matching speaker. That should ensure compatibility. If the TV does not have Bluetooth, you can add it with an adapter like the $30 MPOW Streambot, then try different speakers to get good sync. I would start with an inexpensive speaker; paying more has nothing to do with sync issues and does not guarantee success.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadviceblog.com.